George Sisler

Position: First baseman
Teams: St. Louis Browns, 1915-1927; Washington Senators, 1928; Boston Braves, 1928-1930

George Sisler was one of the best first basemen who ever played the game, despite performing at peak capacity for only about half of his career. He had amply demonstrated, though, that he might well have been the greatest hitter of them all.

George Harold Sisler (1893-1973) grew up in Akron, Ohio, and signed a contract with the Akron entry in the Ohio-Penn League while still in high school, though he received no money.

George Sisler set an all-time major league record in 1920 when he garnered 257 hits.
George Sisler set an all-time major
league record in 1920 when he
garnered 257 hits.

He later enrolled at Michigan to play under Branch Rickey, where he was considered one of the best college players. His Akron contract became the property of the Pittsburgh Pirates, but after college George signed with Rickey’s St. Louis Browns. After much controversy, the National Commission ruled in favor of the Browns because George was a minor when he signed the Akron contract.

Like Babe Ruth, George began his career as a pitcher. Shortly after joining St. Louis, Sisler beat Walter Johnson in a classic pitcher’s duel. Stationed at first base in 1916, Sisler hit .305 in his first full season.

After three seasons in which he batted around .350, George went wild in 1920. Not only did he top the AL with a .407 average, but he also collected an all-time-record 257 hits and set a new 20th-century mark for first basemen with 19 home runs.

Two years later, Sisler again cracked the .400 barrier when he soared to .420. Since he also paced the AL in runs, hits, and triples, he walked away with the league’s MVP Award. With all Sisler’s heroics, the Browns still could not land their first pennant, losing to the Yankees by a single game. Sisler finished his career without ever appearing in a World Series.

After the 1922 season, George began to develop double vision, stemming from his infected sinuses. An operation only partially remedied the problem. When Sisler returned to the Browns in 1924 as a player-manager, he slumped to .305. He rebounded somewhat in 1925, batting .345 with 105 RBI. However, he quickly regressed, falling to .290 in 1926, his lowest average ever for a full season’s work.

Sold to Washington in 1928, Sisler played just 20 games for the Senators before finishing his career with the Boston Braves. His son Dick hit a dramatic three-run homer on the final day of the 1950 season to give the Phillies the NL pennant. Sisler’s other two sons, David and George Jr., also became professional players. Dad Sisler was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939.

Here are George Sisler's major league totals:

1,175 375

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